The great thing about work is I can wear whatever I want. Fashion is about a point of view and the clothes you wear reflect the mood you are in. As I age, I seem to prefer a relaxed but smarter and more polished look as I find it much more easier to pair with my other clothes. My favourite garment is my Tiger jacket but I recently noticed that it is starting to wear through the numerous time I have worn it. I decided that it’s about time for me to make another statement piece and I decided on a double breasted jacket purely because I had always wanted one.
I’m really pedantic when it comes to the cut and fitting of the jacket. When I make a jacket, I invest a lot of time and effort to ensure that everything is perfect (hence why I don’t always make jackets). They say the best jacket can work wonders for your body and the top tailors in Savile Row can make you feel like a million dollars.
Although you can get a simple single breasted jacket in any high street shops, the fitting is tailored toward the average Joe (lucky!). Anyone who deviates from the average will find problems in the length of the jacket, the fit, the height of the shoulders, etc. And to add to the list of problems, the fabric selection is poor and finishing basic.
The style of the jacket is also very personal whether it is single or double breasted, has one or two vents, has wide lapels with a notched collar or peak lapels and the number of buttons. On top of that the fabric choices and the cut/fit of the jacket also comes into play. Quite a lot of decisions for just a jacket.
I decided to opt for a double breasted jacket with a single vent, peak lapels and 6 buttons. These decisions are based on past experiences of wearing jackets as well as knowing what works best for me. For the fit, I wanted a slimmer fitting with a higher shoulder to hide my slouching.
For the fabric choices, I wanted a heavier wool but couldn’t decide between a navy coloured wool or a forest green colour. Eventually, I decided on the navy as the fabric was the right thickness and this will help during the sewing.
Pattern cutting wise, I had a single breasted jacket pattern that has an amazing fit. I decided to alter the front section of the pattern into a double breasted jacket pattern. This should have been a very simple process but overthinking made it extremely difficult. I was looking through all my pattern cutting books but should have learnt by now that everyone has a different technique. After a day of overcomplicating my thinking, I went back to my pattern cutting course notes and within an hour, I managed to alter the pattern.
With the patterns drafted and fabric cut out, I moved to the next stage which was assembly. I have seen jackets being sewn by hand with every stitch on the canvas intricately done. Honestly, I would love to do that but as I am not being paid to do this, I stuck to the modern way and used iron on canvas. Although it was iron on, there is still technique in ensuring that the canvas shapes the jacket where it should. This takes time and patience especially around the lapel and collar.
I used everything I knew to construct this jacket. I’d even used a block of wood to press the seams open after a good steam with the iron.
I find this presses the seams flat and keeps a nice and even line. It is much easier if I had a steam iron with a vacuum board but let reserve that for the professionals.
When making complicated garments, I usually like to leave a bit of mark inside the jacket. Not only to remind me when I made it but as a signature from the creator. A bit like the rumour about Alexander McQueen inscribing rude words in the jacket of the Prince of Wales when he was working as a tailor.
I have a thing for sleeve heads. Well constructed garments have the most beautiful sleeve heads, ones that you can get orgasmic over. That is usually a sign of good craftsmanship as a lot goes in there from the ease in the pattern, to the shoulder pad and sleeve head roll. When I was studying pattern cutting, this seemed to be the bane of all pattern cutters. After all, the jacket will be ruined if the sleeve head looks floppy or inadequate. After all, we’ve all got a lot on our shoulders so why make it worse?
The funny thing is a lot of effort goes on the inside of the jacket to ensure that the outside looks great but no one will ever see it. Still, that doesn’t stop me from doing great work inside.This is similar to what I strive for as a human being. Being good both on the inside and out. Philosophy aside, this is what the jacket look like with the sleeve heads.
For the pockets, I always opt for a patch pocket as it gives more stability compared to a welt pocket. I had also read and watched on the internet this amazing trick for sewing bluff pockets and wanted to try to see if it works. This involved sewing a zig zag stitch around the edge of the pocket to the jacket before carefully sewing everything on from the inside of the pockets. It took a lot of effort but I was so happy that it worked and created a pocket without any stitching showing.
I was now at the stage where I could see the finish line as all I needed to sew was the lining. This was accomplished mostly with hand stitching although a machine was used for putting together the seams. I learnt to stitch the lining in by hand to ensure that it doesn’t pull on the shaping that I have created from the canvas. To add in a bit of fun, I bought this black polka dot print lining as it went well with the navy.
With the jacket completed, all I needed to do was to sew the button holes and buttons. I always panic when I am sewing the button holes. I once made a mistake and sewed it the wrong way round because I got my left and right all mixed up. All that effort ruined by some button holes so now I always quadruple check that I have it right. I also cut the holes one by one in a specific order so any mistakes can be rectified.
Remember the buttons that I had made previously (read here)? They are the crowning glory to a week’s worth of effort and patience and I do have to say that it works perfectly well.
I am so happy because this jacket is done exactly how I wanted it to be but also that the anxiety of putting it together is over. This is the look I wish to emulate when I go out in this jacket. A polished but relaxed look, almost as if I am stepping into my personal suite in Claridge’s.
I’m still nowhere near rich enough to do that so cream teas at Claridge’s with this jacket will have to suffice for now.